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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Oil/gas honoree is proud of accomplishments

BY DAN VOORHIS
The Wichita Eagle

Wichita oil and gas man Wayne Woolsey has done a lot in the business — producing more than 890 million barrels of oil equivalent.

Woolsey, owner of oil and gas lease-holding, operating, pipeline, marketing and service companies, is one of five people being recognized by the Kansas Oil & Gas Museum Foundation Hall of Fame in Great Bend. The banquet and ceremony will be April 16 in Great Bend.

Others being recognized are: Grady Bolding of Grady Bolding Corp. in Ellinwood and Marvin Ratts of Shields Oil Producers in Russell. Rod Sweetman of Sweetman Drilling in Wichita and Red Moffat of Sun Cementing in Great Bend, who are both deceased, also were nominated.

Woolsey this week downplayed the recognition.

"It sort of shows my age and how long I've been in business," he said.

But Woolsey, 80, is clearly proud of what he has accomplished.

Since he started his own company at age 39, he has drilled or participated in 800 wells, mostly in Kansas. Today, his companies operate more than 400 wells in a six-county area and manage an interest in more than 100 others. Woolsey said the wells contain a potential for 350 million barrels of oil equivalent.

He and his wife, Kay, continue to run the company on a day-to-day basis.

Their office is in Wichita but his operations are mostly in six south-central Kansas counties. He employs 44; half in Wichita and half in Medicine Lodge.

Woolsey took a while to find his vocation.

Born in 1931 in Texas, he served in the Air Force, finished college at North Texas State University and worked as a teacher. In his mid-20s, he decided to return to college for a master's degree in geology from Texas A&M.

Upon graduation, he worked for Texaco for 10 years, then a few other companies before starting his own company in 1970.

Business has been up and down, as the prices of oil and gas spiked and plunged. It's been a matter of focusing on an area you know and keeping debt low, he said.

"I've never regretted any of the past or what we've been able to do," he said. "It is an honor to be chosen amongst the numerous people who have been in the business."

Reach Dan Voorhis at 316-268-6577 or dvoorhis@wichitaeagle.com.

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